Renowned Irish musician, Sharon Shannon brings her always surprising and energetic live show to the Dean Crowe Theatre, Athlone, on February 9. Her new album - the first in three years - follows on March 17.
While she is best known for her arrangements of traditional Irish tunes and Irish-influenced compositions, she has always been eager to explore new styles, and to meet and work with other musicians. On her new album - Sacred Earth - she cheerfully mixes her sound with African influences.
Sharon has perfectly mastered an African/Irish crossover. But Sacred Earth is more than this: musical elements from the classical world, the Shetland Fiddle Tradition, Hip Hop, country and blues all conspire to make this album a ground-breaker.
She was helped in the project by Justin Adams, who co-produced the album, plays guitar and a variety of percussion instruments, and was, says Sharon, “the obvious guy to help us get that sound”. The guitarist in Robert Plant’s band, The Sensational Space Shifters, Justin has long been an expert in African (and Middle Eastern ) styles, and produced that great Malian band, 'Tinariwen'.
After playing on Sharon’s 2007 album Renegade, Sharon wanted to work with him again, both because of his African connections and because she considers him to be such a generous musician.
"I love his fearless approach to trying different ideas," she said.
It is an approach that paid off for Sharon, with The Guardian's Robin Denselow calling the new album "a rousing reminder of why she's still so unique".
Sharon Shannon plays with Alan Connor in the Dean Crowe Theatre, Athlone, on February 9. Tickets cost €23 and are available from the box office. Call (090 ) 6492129.